Growing demand for localised mobile advertising and indoor location services looks set to drive the LBS (location-based services) market, according to a new report by Strategy Analytics.
With smartphone and mobile data usage increasing and the cost of GPS-enabled handsets falling, the market for mobile LBS has been gaining momentum in recent years. Free apps and services have become widespread, facilitating ease of access to the technology, while recent technological innovations have meant greater precision in navigation and location systems.
The report highlighted the growth of indoor mobile LBS, enabled by low energy Bluetooth beacons and Wi-Fi technology, which can be used for maps, navigation and positioning systems, and proximity marketing for mobile devices.
The researchers found the market was rapidly expanding in India and China, given the countries' fast growing smartphone adoption.
Strategy Analytics looked at the market leaders in the field: Apple, HERE, Google and Tomtom. While HERE was identified as having some of the most accurate mapping and location technology, Google dominates the business sector and boasts the most widely-used maps, navigation apps and local search technologies.
“In addition to the continued adoption of mobile LBS in rising mobile data markets, venue owners and brands are increasingly testing the capabilities of mobile devices to deliver enhanced customer experiences and engagement," said Nitesh Patel, Director of Wireless Media Strategies at Strategy Analytics. "We see the increasing activity around indoor location and mobile marketing by brands, retailers, and owners of complex venues as a clear signal that indoor LBS and location-enhanced marketing will drive the next wave of growth in the mobile LBS sector.”
Davd MacQueen, Director of Media and Apps, added: “HERE is the overall leader in terms of its mapping and location capabilities, followed by Google, TomTom and then Apple. HERE’s opportunity for growth have improved significantly with its horizontal strategy, following the sale of Nokia’s devices and service unit to Microsoft. However, Google is the leader in business–to-consumer (B2C) LBS applications, as it benefits from preloading on most Android handsets."
Despite its hold on the smartphone market, Apple is still behind when it comes to LBS technology. However, given the widespread use of its handsets, the researchers said it is in an excellent position to expand its provision. Apple has recently made a number of acquisitions to better situate itself on the market, including Locationary, WiFiSlam, Embark and BroadMap.